The country's largest private sector business conglomerate, Tata Group, on Friday announced the names of the five members who would identify the successor to Ratan Tata as the chairman of the group when he retires in December 2012.
The five-member panel includes three Tata Sons' board members — N.A. Soonawala, Cyrus Mistry and R.K. Krishna Kumar, and Shirin Bharucha who is a trustee with Ratan Tata Trust. UK-based business consultant Lord Kumar Bhattacharya is the fifth and external member.
Mistry is the younger son of Pallonji Mistry of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the largest shareholder in Tata Sons with an 18 per cent holding.
The panel is likely to name the successor by March next year, giving him around 21 months before he officially takes over the reins.
"Ratan Tata is retiring by the end of 2012. By February-March next year, we should come up with the name of his successor," said R.K. Krishna Kumar after the AGM of Indian Hotels Company on Thursday.
With the panel now in place, the members will go through a list of candidates, which is getting longer by the day.
In view of the fact that the chairmanship of the Group has remained within the Tata family for much of its 142-year history, Ratan Tata's step-brother Noel Tata remains the frontrunner for the job. That his wife Aloo is the sister of Cyrus Mistry, would only count in his favour.